“Though she be but little, she is fierce!”

I just missed submitting my quilt to the annual Richmond Fair and that was going to be the name I entered it under- fits my feisty little girl perfectly! I was inspired to make this when I fell in love with a quilt on Etsy but it was out of my price range. Never mind that I easily spent that amount in fabric, batting, shipping costs, a rotary cutter, and cutting mat! At least they are investments in my continued learning and growing as a sewist (sewer sounds too much like the pipe attached to a toilet)!

quilt layout

Working on the layout with my little helper

The fabric came from Weave and Woven Textiles, a shop based in Hamilton that I found on Instagram one day when I was about to head back to work after mat leave, and was feeling a bit sentimental about the time I had spent with my daughter. I wanted to make her something special, and what better keepsake is there than a quilt? My husband still has a quilt that his great-aunt made him and it’s one of our favourite blankets to cuddle up with. The passing years have made it super soft and there is just something so special about a tangible item that has been with you since childhood.

pinning and piecing

Pinning and piecing the fabric into larger strips

I also wanted something for my daughter’s room to bring in some colour; I loved our “neutral nursery” when we didn’t know the gender of our baby, but she is so full of personality that we needed to bring in some pizzazz and (pardon my French) badass-ery to her space! Unicorns are having a bit of a moment right now and to me, they embody everything my girl is- strong, kind, unique, fearless. So naturally, the first fabric I chose was the awesome turquoise unicorn pattern from Sarah Jane for Michael Miller fabrics. There is also a hint of metallic gold for that je-ne-sais-quois bit of sparkle that she has (I’m sure every mom thinks this but I am just constantly wondering how it’s possible that this little marvel used to be a flutter in my belly).

ironing

So much ironing… 

The next pattern I picked was a tableau of beautifully decorated cakes and macarons by Patty Sloniger, also for Michael Miller fabrics; this one caught my eye because my husband’s sister is trained as a pastry chef and all the women in our family love to bake. After those two the rest just fell into place, since I knew I wanted a bold black and white stripe for the binding, so I chose other fabrics that just repeated colours from the unicorn/cakes prints without being too bold or busy. At the last minute I decided I needed more white so I added the gold raindrops print after I had already cut out most of the pieces! I also realized that I was a few inches short for my backing fabric, so instead of making it smaller I opted to add a strip of the binding fabric at either end. Now it’s truly unique and will better suit my longer-than-average girl. Choosing the fabrics was definitely one of the most enjoyable parts of this project, and seeing it come together was the motivation I needed to get through the tedious tasks of ironing and pinning!

batting and backing

Had to extend the backing with the binding fabric since I miscalculated :(

Throughout the process there were some really helpful resources that I relied on. I didn’t follow a pattern so I looked up how to do a somewhat random assortment of squares and rectangles; I used the “magic number” method of repeated 3″, 6″, and 12″ side lengths for the pieces, adding 0.5″ for the 0.25″ seam allowance on either side (meaning I cut pieces that were 3.5×3.5″ squares, 6.5×6.5″ squares, 6.5×3.5″ rectangles, and 6.5×12.5″ rectangles). This made it easier to place the pieces somewhat randomly without a pattern, because the smaller pieces were elements of the larger pieces (ie, 4 of the 3.5″ squares would make a 6.5″ square after sewing them together).

sandwich

Assembling the “sandwich”: backing, batting, and quilt front

Another great resource was Suzy Quilts for the quilting and binding parts, which I was a teeny bit stressed about, due to the amount of work that goes into the quilt before you even get to the quilting stage! I also referred back to my favourite ladder stitch YouTube video for attaching the binding to the backside of the quilt, which I did by hand. I used cotton thread for the all of the seams because I read that using poly thread with cotton fabrics over time will wear unevenly and could lead to breakage in the fabric; also, I discovered that the thread for machine quilting must be meant for that use, because not all cotton thread is compatible with being machine fed. I picked up some quilt clips which I did find were handy to hold the binding on the quilt while I stitched it.

quilting complete

Machine quilting the sandwich layers together complete

ruby testing

Testing stage

binding

Hand-stitching the binding on the backside of the quilt after machine sewing the front side

[Side note- if you regularly purchase notions from a larger fabric store (like in Canada we have FabricLand and Joanns in the US) you may be paying more than you have to. The Sewing Machine Hospital on Merivale Rd in Ottawa that I took my machine to had stuff like buttons, needles, and blades for my rotary cutter that were 50% less than the same items at FabricLand!!! The man who I spoke to there is also an independent shop owner so I’d much rather support him and his ability to find the missing piece for my walking foot! He said it’s totally common for larger stores to triple the cost of items since they get people in with big coupons and sales and have to make up the money somewhere. So, support your local sewing machine repair shop!]

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Action shot! Tried to get one of her gazing lovingly and full of admiration at it but it didn’t happen

Overall this project was really enjoyable and I’m glad I took the plunge! It definitely took a lot of hours and the hand stitching part at the end was pretty time consuming, but I didn’t want a visible seam around the perimeter so it had to happen.

finished

Done! Proud of my hard work!

Have you tackled a quilt project? Now that I’ve finished this one I must admit, I want to do another!

-C

Baby Sleeper Teddy Bear

I can’t seem to stop sewing at the moment! The other day I was sifting through a box of our daughter’s newborn clothes and after “Awww-ing” repeatedly, I decided I had to make something out of my favourite newborn sleeper. Pinterest hooked me up with a blog post, pattern and tutorial so I decided to go for it- first I tried it with my second favourite sleeper of hers, just in case! This was a bit trickier than I thought it would be and I am REALLY GLAD that I followed the tutorial and used the iron-on interfacing. The jersey knit fabric would have been not pleasant to work with around all those curves! I’m glad I decided to do a trial run first because there are a few things I would change.

baby sleeper bear in progress
Front pieces joined for hand stitching nose and eye details

finished baby sleeper bear
The finished product

I think he’s pretty sweet, for a practice bear! When I’m ready for the main event, I’m going to modify the pattern slightly for the “bear front” so that the nose is a bit lower on the face and less pronounced, and make the legs point outwards more. If I do and it’s successful, I will post the new pattern as an update later. I continued to build on my sewing skills with this project by learning how to do a satin stitch with embroidery floss. Pretty basic stuff but it’s always fun to try something new!

There are so many things you can do to preserve those fleeting newborn moments- I like the idea of a quilt too- but I think this teddy will get a lot of snuggles and hopefully stand the test of time. I’m not one for keeping boxes and boxes of clothes that never see the light of day. I have more of a minimalist mentality and clutter really stresses me out, so I would rather donate the majority to someone who can use it and keep a few precious items as a keepsake.

Let me know if you try it or if you have another pattern to suggest, I struggled to find one that I liked!
-C

The Long-Awaited Kimono

It’s been a while, eh? Now that Baby H has finally started napping  somewhat reliably and I actually have more than 5 minutes a day where I’m not brushing my teeth, showering, shoveling food down my gullet, or catching up on sleep, I might have time to blog again! 😮 [side note- I first wrote this draft three months ago; clearly the napping has been going swimmingly. I have one of those babies that naps anywhere from 30-45 min and occasionally over an hour. I can count on one hand the number of 2 hour naps she’s had. Somewhere out there, a friend of a friend of my husband’s told him that by 6 months, he could expect that our daughter would nap for 2 hours, 3x a day and I would have time to grow a veggie garden, clean the house, and cook elaborate homemade meals with all my free time. Dude, I don’t know who you are or where you are, but I hope karma does.]

I would also like to take this time to formally apologize to every new mom I know, who I quietly judged inside my head before becoming one myself. Forgive me. The best quote I have heard on this topic is “It’s awfully hard to get on that high horse with a baby in your arms.”

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We both know it’s going to be weeks months before you finish this, so I’m just going to make myself comfy…

I’ve had a kimono project in the back of my mind ever since I saw Holly Dolly’s. When I found a cute peachy floral fabric at my #1 happy place AKA FabricLand, I knew just what to do! Actually that’s a lie, here is the original fabric that I wanted to use, but it was like $20/m so I settled on the cheaper alternative.

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I wanted something that would be light for the summer that I could nurse discreetly in. It’s not perfect by a long shot, but the last item of clothing I sewed was a pair of PJ pants back when I was oh, 10 or so? And I hated them and never wore them (sorry, Mom). I used a tutorial from Elle Apparel Blog as a rough guide, laid out my fabric, and got to it!

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Why yes, that is a baby strapped to my body while I sewed. #babywearingforthewin

One thing this project gave me was experience using the presser foot on my sewing machine. I’m super impressed with my little Janome SUV 1108. It came with a ton of accessories that I am slowly learning the different uses for. It was a fun challenge figuring out how to do a rolled hem. Shout out to the people of the sewing sub on Reddit for their tips! The fabric was super fine and hard to work with, so I used spray starch to get it to “stick” and feed better into the foot. I made sure to practice on a few test strips until I got the feel for how to feed the fabric into the foot, and took my time- unpicking was tedious and not suited to the delicate nature of the fabric, so I really had to try to get it right on the first pass. I also used these tips from Megan Nielsen and this video from The Colorful World of Sewing to help me out.

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Test strips, test strips, and more test strips

Et voila.

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Just in time for the fall [Edit… winter] and for baby to start solids, my easy breezy summery nursing-friendly kimono!

-C

Baby H’s Neutral Nursery Reveal

I’m super excited to share our finished nursery! I took advantage of the 30 cm of falling snow outside to stay in and do a little photo shoot with our new camera, which I’m still learning how to use. If you want a little refresher, check out this post for my style board and plan and this post for a progress report. I’ve been working on this room on and off for about 3 months and I’m really happy with how it looks. It kept me occupied between losing my job and waiting for baby to come, which I am grateful for! But enough of my nattering, here are some visuals.DSC_4809_DSC_4781_ DSC_4807_DSC_4778_DSC_4786_ DSC_4826_DSC_4793_DSC_4794_DSC_4797_This room featured a lot of DIY and craft projects, like the papier maché zebra head I previously posted about and the 2D cloud mobile I made, loosely based on a wooden one I saw online.DSC_4828__01
The wall art is pretty much all DIY, from the zebra head to the art prints I made with some free web graphics that I found online – I love how these turned out!DSC_4838_DSC_4843_We really tried to save money anywhere we could, like using coupons, shopping sales, and repurposing things we already had in the house (like the curtains). I really wanted some cute maternity photos to frame and to have as a keepsake but hiring a photographer was not in the budget- so we bought a new-to-us DSLR camera that was an upgrade from our 10 year old one and did our own photoshoot at a nearby park with a tripod and a timer.

DSC_4799_ DSC_4805_I may have gone a bit overboard with storage containers. It’s hard to know what we’ll need before the baby actually gets here, but I tried to give us lots of options for toys, blankets, clothes, diapers etc- all the various baskets and containers will help keep things as organized as possible!

DSC_4804_I really liked the idea of a shelf/organizer combo with hooks above the change table but couldn’t find anything I liked at a price I wanted to pay. So I made my own with an inexpensive shelf, wall hooks, and baskets. I think this will end up being really valuable storage and functional space for diaper changes!

DSC_4802_My favourite corner of the nursery is the rocker, bookshelf, and ottoman, and I’ve already been testing it out! Hard to believe that soon I will be sitting here nursing our baby, and later reading to them.  I love the little zebra stool which will function as a drink station for those midnight feeding sessions.

DSC_4819_If you’re interested in where we got everything and our budget, here is a handy little source guide with a price breakdown too! I’m pretty happy with what we ended up spending on this room.

  1. Crib – Delta “Waves”, Sears, $130 on sale
  2. Mattress – Simmons Peaceful Slumber, Sears, $75 on sale
  3. Linens – ÄLSKAD 4-piece set, IKEA, gifted
  4. Mobile –  DIY with supplies purchased from Michael’s and Fabricland, ~$10
  5. Rocking chair – POANG rocker with black leather cushion, IKEA, $219
  6. Macramé ottoman – HomeSense, $39.99
  7. Antelope accent pillow – Village International, gifted
  8. Zebra stool – Village International, gifted
  9. Book shelves – MOSSLANDA picture ledge, IKEA, $16.99/ea
  10. Floor lamp – HEKTAR floor lamp, IKEA, $79.99
  11. Wall art – DIY prints from free vector images found online in RIBBA frames from IKEA, $9.99/ea
  12. Accent stripe – Behr paint in Perfect Taupe, $18.97/quart
  13. Curtains – recycled beige and black panels previously purchased with added blackout liner, $30
  14. Curtain rod – RÄCKA rod with 3 brackets and BLÅST finials, IKEA, $19.49
  15. Toy storage unit – TROFAST storage combination, IKEA, $105
  16. Bone/enamel picture frame, Dollarama, $3
  17. Laundry hamper, HomeSense, gifted
  18. Papier maché zebra head – DIY, free!
  19. Wall lamp – RANARP lamp, IKEA, $29.99
  20. Change table/dresser – Kijiji, $80, with change pad, gifted
  21. Bamboo basket for wipes, HomeSense, $12.99
  22. Change table storage – EKBY shelf, $18.99, with SVARTSJÖN hook rack, $6.99, and NORDRANA baskets, $9.99; all IKEA
  23. Painted mason jars, Little Miss Mason, gifted

As always I’d love to hear what you think in the comments! Now we just need sweet Baby H to arrive to really pull it all together. 😉

-C

“Neutral Nursery” Progress

Today I’m sharing how the nursery is coming along. If you want a reminder of where we started, check out this post for some seriously old school wallpaper and this post for my plans.

So far we have all the furniture and the window treatments figured out, which were slapped together from a couple of old panels we had kept from our very first apartment. I was super impressed at my ingenuity of adding the black panel to the bottom of the beige ones and when I showed off my accomplishment to my husband he said “But they were already curtains anyway, right? All you did was stitch them together and change the length?” Huh. Next time he can sew. Slight segway: I will never NOT buy curtain rods from IKEA. For the price, look, and quality, they hit the sweet spot for me! The sweet spot being a ~$20 price tag, that is. The finials match the dresser knobs nicely too.

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One project that has kept me busy lately is lining the drawers of the change table. This was my first attempt and there was definitely a steep learning curve! I can post more about this if anyone is interested, basically I just used wrapping paper cut to size and Mod Podge to adhere and seal it. Now the insides of the drawers look nice and fresh! I shared this on Instagram a while back, obviously I move closer to real time in social media land than in blogging land, so you might want to check me out there @dear_diy.

lined dresser drawers

I’m not sure what to do above the change table- a shelf? Artwork? It might be nice to have the wipes and Penaten or something within arms reach so we don’t have to be opening the dresser drawers while trying to restrain a pee machine.

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(Happy to report that I have since removed the price tag from the laundry hamper- for someone with “attention to detail” I sure miss a lot of stuff. Perhaps I should remove that from my resume when I start looking for a job again?)

I really like the idea of a shelf/storage/hook combo unit like this one from Finding Silver Linings.

Driftwood-Nursery

So far the only ones I’ve found run about $50-60 at HomeSense. They also tend to have more of a “rustic” look which doesn’t really jive with the mostly modern look I have going on. I think I have hit upon a solution, I just need to convince my husband that we really do need more storage (when does anyone ever NOT need more storage?!).

Stay tuned, I’m hoping to wrap this room up in the next few weeks just in case Baby H decides to make an early appearance!

-C